Reasons for Designation
A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone,
mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD).
Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as
stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm
Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for
preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of
sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between
parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate
battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and
protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market
places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some
crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for
example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the
scenes of games or recreational activity.
Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have
numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation
has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and
religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by
iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval
standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The
oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft
often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the
stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a
flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th
centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may
take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more
elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped
crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding
stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the
most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the
stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also
uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the
13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and
cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base,
buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and
head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our
understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our
knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which
survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their
original location, are considered worthy of protection.
The churchyard cross at Thurlby is a good example of the stepped base of a
standing cross. Situated to the west of the tower, it is believed to stand in
or near its original position. Limited disturbance of the area immediately
surrounding the cross indicates that archaeological deposits relating to the
monument's construction and use in this location are likely to survive intact.
The cross has continued in use as a public monument and amenity from medieval
times to the present day.
The monument includes a standing stone cross located in the churchyard of St
Germain's Church, Thurlby, approximately 13m west of the tower. The cross is
believed to be medieval in origin and restored in 1842. The monument
includes the base and a fragment of the shaft.
The base is constructed of three stones, including a plinth, step and
socket-stone. The plinth is approximately 0.97m square and up to 0.07m high;
it is chamfered up to the step, which is about 0.92m square and 0.3m high with
slightly chamfered upper corners. On the step rests the socket-stone, a
single slab measuring 0.68m square in section at the base and 0.5m high, with
chamfered upper edges. The shaft fragment is of plain rectangular section
with a roughly shaped top, and reaches a maximum height of 0.56m. The northern
face is inscribed with the date `1842'. This date is believed to represent a
restoration which included the replacement of the shaft. The full height of
the cross is approximately 1.43m.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.